Professor Van-Tam sighted the nonexistent date when discussing restrictions the UK Government imposed on travellers coming into Britain from the coronavirus hotspots of Wuhan and Hubei province. Social media users took to Twitter to point out the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England’s error.
Professor Van-Tam said: “On February 29 and then I think February 30 we announced that travellers returning from the hotspot of Wuhan and Hubei province respectively, when they arrived in the UK must self-isolate from home for 14 days.”
The Guardian’s Hannah Jane Parkinson tweeted: “Did… did Jonathan Van Tam just say the quarantine for travellers has been in place since the ’30th February’? Because… the 30th February does not exist.”
BBC’s Emily Maitlis replied: “He did and what’s more I nodded sagely and wrote it down without question. Like an excellent note-taker.”
Another Twitter user wrote: “Follow the science, trust the experts!”
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Professor Van-Tam sighted the nonexistent date when discussing travel restrictions
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One Twitter user referenced Home Secretary Priti Patel’s blunder regarding the number of coronavirus tests that had taken place in the UK: “Jonathan Van Tam to Priti Patel: ‘I’ll see your three hundred thousand, thirty four, nine hundred & seventy four thousand & raise you a 30th of February’.
“These daily briefings are going well, aren’t they?”
Another tweeted: “This is embarrassing Jonathan Van-Tam saying quarantine instructions were issued on 30th February.”
And another Twitter user wrote: “Jonathan Van-Tam claiming quarantine for incoming travellers has been in place in UK since… the 30th February. A date which doesn’t actually exist.”
This is not the first time an embarrassing blunder has been made during the UK Government’s daily coronavirus press conferences.
Last month Priti Patel confused Britons during her first coronavirus press briefing as she stumbled over the official case figures.
The Home Secretary was visibly nervous as she addressed the nation during the daily coronavirus briefing.
Ms Patel mistakenly said that there had been “three hundred thousand and thirty four, nine hundred and seventy four thousand” coronavirus tests in Britain.
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Ms Patel said: “I can report through the Government’s ongoing monitoring and testing programme that as of 9am today there have been three hundred thousand and thirty four, nine hundred and seventy four thousand tests carried out across the UK excluding Northern Ireland.
“Of these 78,991 have tested positive.”
Some viewers took to social media to discuss the Home Secretary’s mistake.
One Twitter user said: “Reassured that there have been three hundred thousand, thirty four, nine hundred and seventy four thousand tests carried out so far. Far less reassured by Priti Patel‘s grasp of numbers.”
Another tweeted: “I’m confused about what number she was trying to read.”